Many college students dream of traveling and living abroad. Wayne State University student Tori Griffin is one of those who aspires to see the world — and she is living the dream.
Griffin, a marketing and communications double major, is no stranger to travel for the sake of education. She studied abroad three times through WSU.
Last summer, Griffin completed the two week Polish cultural trip and studied a semester in South Korea. This past winter, she spent a semester in Manchester, England.
“Each one was unique and provided a different experience,” she said. “For the Polish trip, our professor travelled with us from WSU. We did lessons on history and culture as we were there and studied at the oldest university in Poland.”
While in South Korea, Griffin attended classes at the University of Seoul.
“I was in an international relations class in Korea. I was one of two people from the U.S. in the class; there were people from 12 different countries. Our professor wasn’t even from Korea, he was from Taiwan,” she said.
Griffin said she engaged in the “most interesting discussions” she ever had.
“I felt I learned more in one session of that class than I did in a whole semester of other classes,” she said.
Though WSU has study abroad programs in many different fields of study, under 500 WSU students participate in study abroad each year.
“We offer more than 40 programs in many countries across the globe in many disciplines, and in different formats: semester or year abroad, faculty-led short courses, short-term summer programs, as well as internship or research abroad,” said Ahmad Ezzeddine, associate vice president for Educational Outreach and International Programs.
Ezzeddine said that a factor that keeps many students from studying abroad is the cost, which varies per program. Additionally, many students don’t want to take off work and suffer a loss of income.
Griffin said she enjoyed her study abroad in South Korea for many reasons, one of those reasons is tuition and travel across the country was covered by the program.
Griffin travelled alone on the trip, being one of two WSU students to participate, although the university had five spots for that program. When she returned, she encouraged her friends to take advantage of the program and participate.
Study Abroad and Global Programs Program Manager Margaret Ogg said, “As I think all study abroad advisors from most schools can agree, I would like to see more institutional funding for students to go abroad.”
Ezzeddine said the Office of International Programs created an endowment for Student Global Experiences, which gives students a chance to apply for grants to support their efforts to participate in study abroad programs. The first grant application will launch this fall.
Griffin said students must organize and plan much of the trip themselves, as the study abroad office sometimes has only one or two staff members available.
“I’ve enjoyed every single trip I’ve gone on,” Griffin said. “But they need more staff, desperately.”
WSU student Devon Abbey, a double major in romance languages and secondary education, is currently participating in the summer study abroad program in South Korea. She said her biggest motivators to get involved were accessibility, as the Seoul trip is inexpensive, and curiosity.
“We’re in class all day, every day, and we go on cultural excursions. It’s a nice way to have a practicum alongside the academics,” Abbey said.
Griffin said that studying abroad has changed how she views the world.
“You’re in a classroom with people from all over the world and they all have different perspectives. You can learn something from each (country) you go to — it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself,” she said.
Ogg said study abroad programs provide students with an educational opportunity that places them as a temporary local.
“Our programs intentionally try to provide students with real world experience in the countries that they travel abroad, not only a tourist experience,” Ogg said.
Amal Rass is features editor of The South End. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.